The Sill has partnered with Breather to create “the ideal workspace” in New York City. You might be asking yourself – if a space already has fast wifi, big bright windows (rare for an city office!), and a white board – how can you make it better? With the addition of indoor plants, of course!
Indoor plants don’t just look good – they make us feel good mentally and physically, too. Studies have shown indoor plants…
- Boost morale, productivity, concentration, and creativity
- Reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats, and colds
- Improve indoor air quality by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity, and producing oxygen
- Improve offices by softening sterile interiors, dividing areas, and reducing noise levels
- Are aesthetically pleasing to look at and therapeutic to care for
This is because the presence of plants improves indoor air quality, and improved indoor air strengthens our general health and wellbeing.
Have you heard of Sick Building Syndrome? The term is used to describe symptoms experienced by individuals working or living in large commercial buildings – when no other cause can be detected for their illness. Dr. Bill Wolverton, a leading scientist in NASA’s Clean Air Study, explains, “When the building occupants are away for a given time, the symptoms usually diminish, only to recur upon re-entry into the building.” These symptoms can include, but are not limited to, sudden allergies; irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headache, dizziness, and fatigue; respiratory and sinus congestion; and nervous system disorders.
What’s the cause of the majority of these symptoms? Indoor air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency now ranks indoor air pollution among the top 5 threats to human health! Not great news when studies indicate that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Indoor air pollution can be caused by a variety of things, but the most common contributors are: mold and pollen; various smoke and gases; household cleaning products and pesticides; synthetic building materials; and poor air circulation. These contributors release toxin emissions such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.
It is important to try to improve your indoor air quality in the home and office even if symptoms are not noticeable now. And one of the best ways to do that is with indoor plants. Plants absorb these harmful toxins, break them down into gentle organic byproducts, and store them in their soil to use later for food.
Not only can the presence of indoor plants lead to a striking decrease in Sick Building Syndrome symptoms, but studies have shown that, where indoor plants have been installed, office work performance increased, staff wellbeing improved, and sick-leave absences were reduced. Also carbon dioxide concentrations were strikingly reduced – down to about 10% of those in offices without plants. Plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
In addition to the benefits associated with improved indoor quality, contact with nature in general has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and stress, and increase relaxation and self-esteem. Even brief exposure to nature has been shown to make us more altruistic and cooperative. In a 2013 study, touching real foliage – rather than fake foliage made from resin – was shown to elicit an unconscious calming effect on participates.
We are only beginning to understand the impact indoor air quality has on our mental health and work performance but we do know it is a positive one.
A few of The Sill’s Air-Filtering Favorites (inside The Oasis):
- Assorted Ferns (Boston, Staghorn, Crocodile) – filters formaldehyde, xylene and toluene
- English Ivy – filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene
- Spider Plants – filters formaldehyde, xylene and toluene
- Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) – filters benzene, formaldehyde
- Snake Plant – filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene
- Pothos/Philodendron – filters formaldehyde
- Dracaena (‘Tarzan’) – filters benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene
- Rubber Plant – filters formaldehyde